Energy as a Strategic Sector of the Economy and Blood Flow of the Production System

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By Kostas Latoufis, Ioannis Margaris, et al.:

The energy sector is a strategic sector in all economies: It forms the “blood flow” of the production system and is a key factor for the satisfaction of human needs. A sustainable approach to the energy sector should pursue energy sovereignty and the participation of all stakeholders of the surrounding ecosystem. Energy must be understood as a common good and be approached in a way that addresses multiple dimensions (temporal, geographic, etc.), while prioritising local benefits.

The current global energy sector is facing serious physical and environmental limitations, of which two undeniable examples are the depletion of fossil fuel resources and the threat of climate change. The energy sector requires a transition to a sustainable paradigm, a process in which universal access to appropriate sources of energy for all people should be the priority. Proposing alternatives that harmonise energy needs with ecological sustainability requires a re-consideration of the concept of “development” and a search for new evolutionary paradigms for society. Moreover, it is clear that a sustainable energy paradigm must rely on renewable resources to ensure their renew-ability. In this sense, Latin America faces a difficult challenge: Almost half of its energy supply depends on oil, and this is expected to increase. It must be emphasised that the scarcity and cost of this source of energy will increase, and even if it proves possible to access it, the environmental effects will be detrimental. The fantasy of a “flat earth economy” without entropy or biophysical limits brings society inevitably to a dead-end. To develop the good life, we must be able to examine what alternative perspectives exist for a socio-ecological transition (Guayanlema et al., 2014).

The generation, access and dissemination of information that is disaggregated, geo-referenced and open about territorial energy systems should underpin a new paradigm of energy planning and protocols. These protocols should consider the needs, capacities, renewable resources and methods of resource conservation, as well as the use of appropriate and appropriable types of open technologies.

Crucially, the transition to a sustainable energy matrix requires the development of institutions and technological capacities to effectively manage the flow of energy that is reproduced naturally through the biosphere (CEDA, 2012). The priority is the creation of spaces and mechanisms that facilitate the partnership of the state and civil society with regard to training, research, innovation and the production and management of energy. To this end, a regulatory agenda must be agreed upon to facilitate the reciprocal transformation of energy and productive structures and the democratisation of energy service provision.

An essential factor for the success of this transition is the recognition of the fact that the sustainability of this structure is not only determined by the energy supply, but also by its demand. The strategy must combine the promotion of efficient energy savings based on changing consumer habits, of new ways of exchanging goods and services, of territorial re-arrangement, etc. It is essential, therefore, to pay attention to the education and energy literacy of all people so as to ensure their active participation in the process." (